Paint it Black

The lady and I took a week long test run with the newly lifted 4Runner.  We wanted to see what worked and what didn’t. What we wanted and what we could do away with. What we noticed most was storage. I have plans for interior storage but I decided to get as much nonessential items up on the roof as possible. First thought was a roof basket of some sort. It seems that all the offroad enthusiast tend to rock a roof basket but after the trip I had second thoughts. I know on the road there will be nights where we stay in a hostel or even just a few hours in town while we shop and although I like to think the best of mankind I’d rather not test the honesty of humans. Especially in underdeveloped countries where taking advantage of foreigners is sport. I decided to go with a lockable cargo top. I had my reservations, especially aesthetically, but when I saw someone selling a brandnew Yakima Space Cadet  for cheap on Craigslist, I went with it.

Before I mounted the Yakima to the roof I wanted to do something about the paint job. The paint was a mess. Destroyed by the sun, dinged, dented and basically done. This was to be a functional rig and and looks would come second to function but I still like to roll in style. I decided to paint the entire truck in Rustoleum Truck Bed Coating. The textured paint would be easier to apply, via rattle can, than a flat paint and would also add some protection against brush and tree branches. I figured after I painted I’d probably never wash the truck again. After hours of masking and six cans of paint I was very happy with my decision. I then mounted the Yakima box to the roof using some Unistrut I had laying around the house. All in all I’m happy with the results.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset


The Lady Needed High Heels

Part function, part fashion, the whip needed a lift. Without out lifting I could go up to about a 32” tire which is an odd size and probably impossible to find while stuck in a small Central American village. 31” tires would fit but just didn’t seem aesthetically pleasing to me. So I decided on a fairly standard 33 10.5R15 BF Goodrich but first I needed to lift her up. I’ve never lifted a truck before but I’ve heard countless stories of people adding suspension lifts to their trucks and then everything else seems to start breaking after that. I don’t need a high performance rock crawler. Just a reliable rig that can run some shit over and get me to where I want to go. I went with a 2” body lift. Just enough to fit bigger tires, look cool, and not cause too many issues. 4 Wheel Parts had the kit in stock  and my retired Dad was ready for a project.

We watched this video  from the Kiwis at NZ off roaders to get started. They offered some good advice about loosening the steering collar and not removing all the bolts. It was actually quite simple. We removed bolts on one side, jacked up the body and popped in the spacers. Then we did the other side. bolts under frontThe kit came with a bunch of other parts to realign everything that is offset by the lift but because we only went 2 inches we didn’t see much of a need for most of them. We did use the bumper brackets to bring the bumper back up 2 inches. We did have to do some grinding and cutting on the bumper to get it to fit. bumperThey gave us brackets to move the radiator back but it seemed OK where it was. The only real issue was the stick shift. They gave us parts to modify the shifter but it required welding and seemed like a hassle. We just decided to modify the rubber boot around the shifter to allow it to stay in gear. The boot seemed to not want to stretch and wouldn’t stay in 2nd, 4th or seats

Instead of buying new rims we took a couple cans of and sprayed the wheels. Since I was buying new tires I didn’t even bother to remove or mask them off.  I also threw a coat of the bed coating on the front bumper while I had it off for the lift.bumper

new tires

Veni , Vidi, Cepi


Back in 2012 a new social media platform, Pheed,  was gaining traction. Pheed promoted themselves as a safe haven for creative individuals to express their artistic ejaculate free from the fascist shackles of Instagram. Camraface, an IG superstar, suggested I give the app a try.

The Pheed community quickly took notice of my smut and before long the Chief Cultural Officer Tony DeNiro got in contact. Tony was a music executive and branding consultant hired by the social media app to make it hep with the kids. They set up shop at a Beverly Hills mansion complete with halfpipe. Tony suggested I do a photoshoot at the mansion and one of the dates available just happened to be my birthday. Location and day were locked down, now I just needed a concept and models.

It was early 2013 and I had spent some time in Northern California’s Emerald Triangle Trim Scene. With a year’s worth of Mendo’s finest, my understanding of the Pheed House’s proclivity to self medication, and most importantly it being my birthday I decided to make the shoot a personal birthday party to myself.  I ventured over to trusty Model Mayhem and put a casting call out titled Weed Whiskey and Women. The gist of the casting was come enjoy yourself at the mansion, partake in whatever you wish and I’ll photograph what may be. Although I wasn’t offering pay for the shoot I was still bombarded with interested candidates. I find that group shoots are the hardest to cast due mostly to schedules, but a Trade for Print group shoot is always a prime recipe for flaking. Since it was my birthday and Tony gave me free reign I didn’t cap the number of models. Everybody that responded and available was invited.

Leading up to the shoot day the weather had been wet and cold. Luckily I woke up that morning to clear skies and warmish January temperatures. I arrived early, which seems to be a lost art in LA, and scoped out the premises. The house was practically empty except for the essential  elements necessary for killer clam bakes and kick backs.  As expected, text began to roll in with various excuses from, my mom needs a ride to the hospital, car won’t start, to chicken pox.  Fortunately, more people showed up than canceled. I also invited a few friends to just come hang out while I worked but most were unable to destroy brain cells at 1pm on a Monday. My friend Deja showed up though and she captured some behind the scenes images for me that I’m very grateful for.

The six models were a nice variety. They came to enjoy the sun and stand vulnerably in front of my Canon soul stealer. I shot mostly with a 5DMii, 50mm prime and El Sol. The day went well. We drank, we smoked, we laughed. Everyone got along and new friendships were born. Pheed on the other hand never became what it could have. It seemed that bigger players in the social media world used their power and covert tactics to ensure the upcoming competitor couldn’t compete in their capitalistic thunderdome.


Pismo Beach before modification

I’ve been on the hunt for an old 4×4 to transform into my adventure vehicle. One of my fondest memories as a kid was off-roading with my family. My dad, never one to stay on the beaten path, was always taking us on adventures. We never had a lot of money or fancy things but we were Rockefeller’s when it came to fun. At the age of eight while off-roading in Gorman CA, my dad decided it was time for me to learn to drive stick. Most likely just so he could drink his beer while being chauffeured around but nevertheless still one of the greatest days of my life. Most childhood memories have all but faded but that particular day is still very vivid in my mind. From that moment I was hooked and since have owned various trucks and put them through Guantanamo like torture. I’ve been stuck more times than I can count but have enjoyed the puzzle that getting unstuck is. Alas, it’s been eight long years since my last truck and the time has come to adventure once more.

My girlfriend and I are both gypsies at heart. The desire to move around and explore new worlds compels us. From an outsiders perspective we appear as complete opposites but our essence is of one.  Complementary and magnetic. Born to wander with open hearts and minds. Striving to expand our consciousness. Every explorer needs a trusty form of transportation. A mobile abode capable of adventure.  I’ve been looking for an older Toyota for some time now. Something tried and tested but nothing to draw attention when deep in the bush.

I have found her. Through various horse trades within my family I have aquired a 1994 Toyota 4Runner. Rusted, dented and perfect. I plan to transform this family transport into our overland adventure vehicle and document the transformation and exploration along the way. Stay tuned.

Sharing my journey.